Why do young people not think a tech career is for them?
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Why do young people not think a tech career is for them?

Why do young people not think a tech career is for them?

Posted on 5th March 2018

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A survey published at the end of last week (so you may not have seen it if, like me, you were stuck in the house due to the snow), has highlighted, once again, the continuing problems that STEM industries in general and IT in particular have in attracting young people and especially young women. It was conducted by Tech City UK and around 1,000 young people, aged 15-21 and spread throughout the UK took part.

The key findings are concerning, for all the reasons we’ve constantly reiterated over the last few years, but it wasn’t just the difference between the sexes (although I’ll come to that) which surprised me. Given how computer literate most young kids are, you might think that a career in tech would be appealing.  It is, but apparently not as attractive as a host of other possible choices. 

The study looked at discussions about Careers on Reddit UK and tech was only sixth most popular, after ‘Finance’, ‘Energy’, ‘Industrials’, ‘Cyclical consumer goods and services’, and ‘Healthcare.’

In addition, it was mainly those aged 16 who were interested in tech careers: those aged 19 or over said they would prefer to start their own business or work in retail. The latter did surprise me as retail is not generally well paid, at least at the lower, entry levels.

Those who want to work in tech cited a number of reasons: principally that it’s a fast moving sector, there are interesting jobs and they would get well paid.  These are all true, and certainly major advantages when compared with starting your own business or going into retail.

When the survey looked at gender differences, technology was the No 1 career choice for young men but it was only the fifth most popular choice for young women, after “The Professions,” “Creative and design,” “Start my own business” and “Other.”  Most worrying of all was the response to a question to those who said they were interested in a career in technology.  Some 70% of these were men: only 30% were women.

On top of this, of those who did not want to work in tech, 50% of men thought “other areas were more appealing” while 45% of young women believe they “did not have the skills to work in technology.”  I’m sorry, this is a crying shame and an indictment of our schools and, I’m afraid, us as adults.  We, as parents, should make our children aware of all the possible careers they might follow, and tech should certainly be highlighted as one that will both pay well and be secure in the future.

I know we’re sounding like a broken record on this subject, but it is SO important.  That’s one of the reasons I’ve become a non-exec with the Career Ready charity (see blogs passim). From the perspective of a teenager who is pondering their options, what could be more exciting (and rewarding) than being part of the fast-growing and rapidly changing world of technology, whether it’s in AI, AR, architecture, DevOps or any of the many other specialist areas that are currently having such a big impact on tomorrow’s world?

Nikola Kelly, MD, Be-IT

Posted in Opinion, Recruitment News

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